Most Stapleton residents have probably seen or spoken to John Alexander. For five years he has sold the newspaper, The Voice, outside of Starbucks in the 29th Ave. Town Center. But he doesn’t just sell the paper. He kindly welcomes conversation with anyone who passes and has been named the honorary “Mayor of Stapleton.” Even in blizzards, he’s outside Starbucks.
This year, Lisa Mazik, a United flight attendant who lives in Parker and periodically teaches at the United Flight Center, stopped at Starbucks and got into a conversation with Alexander. “This lady, Lisa, had a sharp eye, and noticed that I don’t smile as happy as I seem to be. I was suppressing it,” Alexander says.
Five years ago when Alexander first started working at The Voice, he had just kicked a bad cocaine habit. His teeth had a lot of damage, which did not slip by Mazik. She insisted that he show them to her, which he reluctantly did. Mazik then went to Dr. Brett Kessler at Town Center Dentistry and Orthodontics.
Kessler used to treat patients at a sobriety house downtown where homeless people can get resources when they commit to a better life, but they were having a lot of problems getting jobs without having their teeth fixed. “The scars of their addiction were on their face,” Kessler says.
Mazik spoke with Kessler and returned to Alexander with his business card. “They’d like to meet you,” she said. Alexander took the card and kindly thanked her, but never went to see Kessler. When Mazik would travel through Denver, she’d stop in Stapleton for her Starbucks and follow up with Alexander whether he had gone. He fibbed and said he went but no one was there. So one day an assistant from the dentist’s office was waiting outside of Starbucks in the snow to give Alexander another business card and let him know they were still waiting to meet him. A few days later, and six months after Mazik first suggested the idea, Alexander got the courage to go.
“After the consultation, I’m still thinking that we will work out dental payments and maybe pull one tooth here, get something done here, but she [appointment coordinator] slid my Medicaid card to the side. I don’t have no money. What are they going to do?” Alexander remembers thinking.
Kessler pulled all 32 of Cotton’s teeth and gave him new dentures as a gift for inspiring people and committing to get his life back on track after addiction. After three months of recovery, Alexander says he is a new person with his new smile. “What I hadn’t known is that a person can be very happy and if they suppress that, it can do a lot of damage,” he says.
Alexander still works for The Voice and has started lecturing about homelessness and the gaps of understanding in society. At his first lecture, he had a standing ovation. “What they really saw and were feeling were my feelings no longer being suppressed, and me being able to fully express my happiness and joy.”
About a month ago, Mazik came by Starbucks and Alexander could finally show her his new smile. This time she did not have to coax him.
To contact John Alexander to speak at your church, business, class, etc., call 720.415.6098.